Another week has passed and still no sign of Roy Halladay, Josh Hamilton, or the Arizona Diamondbacks bullpen. For their sake, they hope that changes heading into the second month of the season. For now, we recap. Onward:
- The Red Sox might be better than first thought: It isn’t enough for the team I picked to finish last in the American League East to have the best record in baseball going into May. No, they also have to do it in the way I thought least possible: pitching. Well that just goes to show you anything can happen. The Red Sox are currently 18-7, riding a five-game winning streak, and their pitching leads the league in strikeouts (248) and opponents average against (.221). That goes along with a team ERA of 3.39 (sixth in MLB, third in the American League). Have to give credit where it’s due on this one, just a matter of can the good fortune continue in Boston.
- Stephen Strasburg continues to struggle, look bad mechanically: There’s a reason analysts, scouts, and the like have begun to gravitate towards Matt Harvey as the best young pitcher in the National League East. I’ll make it clear, Strasburg is no slouch, and I’ve never made it a secret how little I like his delivery. The Nationals have to be concerned that he can’t seem to put it together mechanically to avoid what many see as “another injury waiting to happen.” Exhibit “A” was on full display Monday night in Atlanta where Strasburg couldn’t keep his front side closed enough to give himself a shot at locating his fastball. Falling off the first base side was his calling card as fastball after fastball sailed high, wide, or to the backstop. As you can imagine he didn’t do his breaking stuff any favors. But because of his immense talent he was able to weather that storm and pitch six-innings of two-run baseball (eight strikeouts). Afterwards he was diagnosed with forearm tightness, no doubt a product of his poor delivery. He has said he will pitch his next start, but I say if his stuff isn’t worked out in a week, they might wanna consider dropping Steve McCatty from payroll. I don’t like calling for jobs, but I found it odd it took him so long to come out of the dugout to calm his star pitcher down.
- How about those Miami (Toronto) Blue Jays?: I can’t tell you how proud I am of myself for not buying into that collection of players again. Currently 9-17 and last in the American League East, the pitching hasn’t been there, the hitting has been sporadic, and I’m convinced Josh Johnson might be destined to turn into this generations version of Jaret Wright. They miss Reyes badly and R.A. Dickey isn’t currently fooling many with his knuckleball. At this rate, Toronto could be seeing what Ozzie Guillen had the privilege of seeing all season down in Miami.
- I think it’s time we talk umpires: I’m going to sound like quite the “players blogger” here, but I have to believe David Price when he said that umpire Tom Hallion crossed a line and shouted obscenities at him last weekend in Chicago. If for no other reason than I have seen some questionable behavior from umpires the last few seasons and that goes beyond the calls missed. Besides umpires boldly walking towards players, baiting them into exchanges, and having about as iron clad a union deal as any in professional sports, a lot of them come from the “old-school” and like to make the game about themselves. Again, I have no proof of Hallion crossing a line, I’m just saying I wouldn’t be shocked that if major league baseball did decide to look into the incident (heaven forbid) then they would see what the rest of us keen observers have seen for a little while now. Ball is in your court, Mr. Selig.
- 200 wins for Tim Hudson: Wanted to take a moment to congratulate the Atlanta Braves Tim Hudson on reaching win number 200 last night against the Washington Nationals. He threw seven-innings, giving up one run, and striking out six. He also played the role of slugger going 2-for-3 with a home run.
- Leave it to Giancarlo Stanton to become….well Giancarlo Stanton the second I tell you to consider trading or shelving him. Therein lies the nature of the baseball Gods. One minute you have no home runs in April and less than five RBI’s, then the last week of the month you hit .300/.364/.750 with an OPS of 1.114. You also add three home runs and six RBI’s. Go figure.
- I couldn’t end this post without giving a shout out to one Mark Reynolds of the Cleveland Indians. Remember him? He was the guy who despite prodigious power in Arizona struck out 200+ times per season (and then followed it up with 196 his first year in Baltimore). he hasn’t hit above .225 in a season since 2010 and was staring down an unemployment if he didn’t get things together in a hurry. Well, I don’t know what Terry Francona is feeding him, but he’s off to a blazing start. He’s hitting .301/.368/.651 with an OPS of 1.019, he has eight home runs (two last night off of the pitcher formerly known as Roy Halladay), and is currently tied for seventh in major league baseball with 22 RBI’s. He’s also on pace to cut down his strikeout rate by a lot, something that has quietly happened every year since he bottomed out with 223 in 2009.
- I also want to take a moment to remind you that Mariano Rivera of the New York Yankees continues to defy all logic. After suffering that terrible knee injury in 2012, he’s bounced back as only Mariano River could: converting all 10 of his save opportunities and having an ERA of 1.74. Kudos to a legend for sure.
- Fun fact: I saw this on Facebook yesterday and couldn’t wrap my mind around it, but Tim Hudson is the first pitcher in SEC history to record 200 wins in major league baseball. That is the most unbelievable fact I’ve heard in quite some time.
- For those of you wondering what happened to the Philles, Blue Jays, and Los Angeles Angels in regards to their early season struggles to climb in the standings, look no further than spots 26-30 in major league team pitching statistics. That will tell you everything you need to know.